7 Pairs of Shoes Every Man Should Own

Have these pairs and you're set for life.

A lot has been said about the usual discrepancy between the size of a woman’s shoe collection and that of her man’s. But let’s be honest here: The ladies have it right. While many men may scoff at the prospect of owning more than three pairs—formal, casual, and sport—the truth of the matter is that every style suits a specific purpose.

We’ve pared down the options men have to a list of seven essentials. We’ve even included a few style tips for these non-negotiables, just so you know exactly what to do with them.

Brown Leather Brogues

The humble Brogue is one of the most versatile shoe styles available for men: smart enough for dinner parties, but casual enough to wear on a day-to-day basis. The decorative shoe caps that distance them from plainer styles are also what holds them back from being a go-to option for more formal affairs.


Although there are a great number of color and material options for Brogues, double-down on the style’s flexibility by going with a classic: single-toned brown leather wingtips. They’re the perfect middle ground for a variety of occasions, looking just as sharp with a trouser-shirt-blazer ensemble as they do with a sleek shirt and denims.

Black Oxfords

Black leather Oxfords are the gold standard for formal wear. The only times they aren’t an option are during bursts of inclement weather—in that case, a good pair of boots is more appropriate. Otherwise, go with Oxfords when wearing tuxedos, suits, or a barong and black trousers.

Maintenance is just as important as owning a pair; your ensemble suffers when there’s a scratch or two on its foundation. Give your Oxfords a good shine before and after use, keep them away from moisture or direct sunlight, and invest in a good set of shoe shapers for storage. You’ll want them looking as good as new every time you put them on.

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At first glance, it’s hard to tell exactly why a Derby shoe feels less formal than an Oxford, but a closer look at the vamp—the upper part of the shoe—shows unstitched lace flaps on the Derby, as opposed to the closed-stitch flaps of the former. This tiny detail makes for a world of difference on the design, making the Derby appropriate for formal events, but not black-tie ones.

The Derby is widely worn during business meetings, dates, and other occasions of similar import. It’s decidedly formal, yet the unstitched flap gives it a much more relaxed aesthetic than its cousin’s. The style is best worn with suits or with a button-down shirt-and-trouser combo. Although black is a recommended color mainly for its flexibility, deeper browns are just as good—and may even bring a little more character to your outfit.


Soft Leather Loafers

There are times that call for a more leisurely look, and the suitably named Loafer should be the footwear that springs to mind first. They tread the line between casual and formal, depending on what else you’re wearing with them. Either way, Loafers tend to make outfits look more relaxed, which makes them a great choice for garden parties and the like.

The laidback vibe of a Loafer affords you more flexibility with the color, although neutrals like black, brown, or deep greens or blues still work the best with most outfits. They’re fantastic for all-day use, and they don’t look out of place with a pair of distressed jeans. They can surprise you with their versatility, so feel free to experiment—just make sure you don’t wear socks with them.

Boat Shoes

With its scored rubber sole and side laces, the Boat Shoe is decidedly casual, but it’s a classy sort. The style is a good everyday shoe, working well both at the office and on Sunday outings with the family. The fact that most boat shoes are also made with waterproof material makes them ideal for tropical climates like ours.


Boat shoes are best worn without socks, and look great with either chinos or shorts. Because they’re casual, you can go for pretty much any color; we do, however, recommend a nice navy, as the hue works well as a pop of color with most outfits.

Plain White Sneakers

There will be days where you spend most of your time on your feet. For those occasions, a comfortable pair of sneakers is a godsend. There are literally thousands of models you can choose from, but if you’re looking for a pair that looks good no matter what you’re wearing, try to go as basic as you can get—white sneakers with little (if any) embellishment look smart and clash with hardly anything.


Canvas sneakers will never go out of style, so they’re a safe bet when choosing a pair. If you tend to be out and about a lot during the rainy season, however, you’ll want to invest in sneakers made of waterproof material. Just make sure you give them a good clean after use; stains of any sort can be glaring against the white backdrop.


Every man needs to exercise. It follows, then, that every man also needs a good pair of exercise shoes. Cross-trainers are the most flexible athletic shoe style one can buy. They’re light enough to jog in, but padded enough for more high-impact activity. Some pairs, in fact, are sturdy enough to play basketball in.

When it comes to choosing trainers, there are fewer style rules—after all, you’re not really expected to wear them outside of physical activity. Pick a look that goes with your workout clothes while saying something about your personality, too. While most people won’t really care how you look in them, it certainly wouldn’t hurt if you did.


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Marco Sumayao
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